January, All Those Weight Loss Ads

This time of year, we’re bombarded with advertising for weight loss programs and exercise systems. Many of them work, at least in the short term. Any that are advertised are of course going to cost money, or they couldn’t afford to advertise them.

So what’s a frugal person to do? There are many small things to do that don’t cost a lot. Engaging the “satiety reflex” is one. Researchers believe that it takes about fifteen minutes for the stomach’s message of “enough” to get through to the brain. If we wolf our meals down in less than that time, we may consume far more food and calories than our bodies actually want.

So, eat more slowly, but how to do that, if you’ve a lifetime of fast eating to overcome? One strategy is to set your fork down on the plate in between bites and completely chew and swallow the current bite before picking up the fork again. Another is to set a timer for twenty minutes and pace yourself so you would still have food left when it goes off. For this to be any help, you have to tune in to the satiety message, and stop eating when your body says it’s had enough, regardless of where the timer has gotten to.

Any attempt to eat less has to cope with the “clean your plate” message that seems to pervade our culture. Wasting food, terrible! Thing is, it’s just as much a waste to add excess food to one’s waist as it is to add it to the trash can or compost pile. Either way, it’s not being used to build new cells and create good health. Prepare less, dish up less, or overcome the reluctance to throw away excess food.

One effective strategy is to eat before eating. Fifteen minutes before a meal, eat a piece of fruit or take a fiber pill. By the time the meal comes along, the body is already partly satisfied, and if given a chance will accept a smaller meal as “enough.”

Making at least half of your plate vegetables can be very helpful also. In addition to volume and fiber, they give the body the nutrients it needs, so it isn’t prompting you to eat more, trying to get the vitamins and minerals the last meal failed to provide.

The challenge in any attempt to change long term habits is to remember to keep on doing the new behavior. Oftentimes, we try a new behavior and it’s great, and a few months later we look back and realize we somehow slipped back into the old behaviors. If your email service has the option to schedule emails in the future, you could email yourself a reminder every month or two for the foreseeable future. Www.memotome.com offers the opportunity to send yourself recurring emails. If you journal, you could write the reminder in every few pages, or in Word, put it in the header or footer.  A sticky note on the bathroom mirror is effective until it’s been there so long you no longer really see it.

Exercise is also helpful for weight loss, and for health in general. If you live where it’s realistic to walk outside, add daily walks to your schedule. If you have a neighbor who also wants to walk, it’s more likely to happen. If someone’s expecting you, it’s harder to give in to excuses for staying home.

It’s kind of a running joke about all the exercise machines that are just expensive clothes racks. Gyms are full in January and half empty again by March. One alternative is to take the six or eight week classes that most public schools offer for adults. Since you have to be there at a certain time on a certain day, it’s more likely to happen than if you can go “any time.” Any time soon becomes tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. Once you lose interest in one type of class, you can always switch to another one.

Another way to beat boredom is to pick up a different exercise machine on Craigslist or Freecycle every so often. That way you always have that newness feeling to keep you interested. You could also Freecycle or sell your old one. YouTube offers many exercise videos. The public library has them too.

If a gym membership is more your style, the YMCA usually has low prices and sometimes offers scholarships. Shopping around will pay off because gym membership prices vary a lot.

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